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Wear and tear 

NSCAD’s Wearable Art Show constructs and deconstructs fashion in varied disciplines. Laura Kenins sits front row.

click to enlarge Art and fashion mesh well at NSCAD’s Wearable Art Show. - ANGELA GZOWSKI
  • Art and fashion mesh well at NSCAD’s Wearable Art Show.
  • Angela Gzowski

NSCAD's Wearable Art Show is a main event on the creative social calendar every April, and the organizers of this year's show are looking to expand that by making it a full-scale gala production. Starting off as a small-scale show in the student lounge, the show has occupied venues from the Cunard Centre to the Dome to the Marquee since then---this year finds it at the Halifax Forum. Besides the traditional runway show, the evening will feature video projections, a gallery of offstage work, onstage performance art, audience prizes, popcorn and cotton candy.

  "Everything is under the blanket of 'wearable art,' but we leave what that means really open," says co-organizer Derrick Dixon. The show has around 20 artists exhibiting their work on the runway, with another 20 offstage. It's not only open to NSCAD students; the organizers also invited students from Dalhousie's architecture and costume studies programs, and alumni and the general public can apply to participate as well.

  Students in this year's show work in fashion, textiles, sculpture, jewellery, photography and video. "It's been our goal to expand into different disciplines, the show has been segregated into traditional fashion in previous years," Dixon says. "We're trying to be more encompassing, we've been more actively pursuing different media."

  As always, the Wearable Art Show is a display of innovation in art for the body. Dal costume studies student John Renaud works with historically inspired clothing like corsets and crinolines, with a twist that's more Yoko Ono: people cut parts off his clothing to reveal modern outfits underneath.

  Alison Crozier, a textiles student, is participating for the first time and refers to her work as "soft armour": she works with geometric shapes, futuristic style and neutral colours. She's interested in the "reversal of outergarment to overgarment," putting form-fitting clothing items like underwear on top, bulkier pieces underneath.

  NSCAD alum Arianne Pollet-Brannen, who works with costumes made from recycled shoes and other leather garments, was inspired by some pairs of coveted worn-out shoes donated to her by Dalhousie Art Gallery director Peter Dykhuis (who also performs in her piece). Her piece is a performance based on a 12th-century morality play, Ordo Virtutum, by nun and visionary Hildegard von Bingen. "My interpretation includes The Soul, Three Virtues and The Devil all clad in deconstructed/reconstructed footwear along with the results of others forms of salvage, adaptation and reuse," Pollet-Brannen says.

  The show also includes a performance from NSCAD's recently formed Futurist Theatre group, a group looking to revive the practices of the early 20th-century Italian Futurists, an art movement committed to the destruction of the past whose interests included nonsense theatre and noise music. The NSCAD Futurists remained elusive, but some other students described the group's aims as "making people yell" and "emerging out of windows and doors."

  Alysia Myette refers to this weekend as the "NSCAD fashion weekend"---the week also brings a fashion show by advanced students on Saturday at the Port Campus, and an exhibit with works on mannequins at Anna Leonowens Gallery, opening April 26. Attendees of the Wearable Art Show are encouraged to dress in their wildest, as judges will be awarding prizes for best outfits and runway walks to audience members.



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